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302                          BYZANTINE CHURCHES                        CHAP.
of the Transfiguration did not transfigure the character of its beholders.
During this trying period of his life one ray of comfort wandered into the cell of the persecuted man. On the 13th December 1351, in the dead of night, while the precincts of the monastery were crowded with worshippers attending the vigil of the festival of the Conception of the Theotokos, a strange figure climbed into the prisoner's room through an open window. It proved to be an old friend and former pupil named Agathangelus, who had not been seen for ten years owing to his absence from the city. Taking advantage of the darkness and of the absorption of the monks in the services of the festival, he had made this attempt to visit his revered master. Eagerly and hurriedly, for the time at their command was short, the two friends recounted the story of their lives while separated. Rapidly Agathangdus sketched the course of affairs in State and Church since the seclusion of Nicephorus Gregoras ; and the brief visit ended and seemed a dream. But the devoted disciple was not satisfied with a single interview. Six months later he contrived to see his master again, and, encouraged by success, saw him again three times, though at long intervals, during the three years that Nicephorus Gregoras was detained in the Chora. One great object of these visits was to keep the prisoner informed of events in the world beyond the walls of his cell, and on the basis of the information thus supplied Nicephorus Gregoras wrote part of his important history. When at length, in 1354* John Cantucuzene was driven from the throne, and John Palaeologus reigned in his stead, Nicephorus was liberated,1 and to the last defended the opinions for which he had suffered.
Another name associated vith the Chora at this time is that of Michael Tornikes, Grand Constable in the reign of Andronicus II, He was related, on his mother's side, to the emperor, and stood in high favour at court not only on account of that kinship, but because of the talents, character, and administrative ability which he displayed.
1 Niceph. Greg, iii. p. 243.